OCCIDENTAL (CBS SF) — A fire erupted in a woodwork shop inside a historic barn at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in unincorporated Sonoma County late Tuesday night, heavily damaging three buildings and spreading to a nearby field, authorities said.
Fire Chief Ron Lunardi said he was a nearby medical call when the report came in of the blaze at the former home of the Farallon Institute. The blaze was first reported at 8:50 p.m. at the center located at 15290 Coleman Valley Road.
“I found a fully involved barn with fire extension into a secondary structure and a 1/8 acre wildland fire,” he said of arriving on the scene.
Lunardi immediately called for additional crews and mutual aid from nearby departments.
Flames were roaring out of the 4,000-5,000 square-foot, two-story barn. Eight water tenders, five engines, three type-3 brush trucks and
two chief officers were dispatched to the scene.
“It’s normal in a rural area where we request a lot of water tenders to keep water flow on the fire,” Lunardi said.
About an hour after the initial call, crews were able to start knocking down and containing the blaze in the structures and in the nearby brush.
Several residents who live on the center’s grounds were not injured. Lunardi said no one was in the barn at the time of the fire.
The cause of the fire doesn’t appear suspicious at this time, Lunardi said.
The three destroyed structures have been declared total losses in the area of $250,000-$350,000.
The center is described on its website as “an 80-acre research, demonstration, advocacy and organizing center in Sonoma County, California that develops strategies for regional-scale community resilience.”
Resources from Bodega Fire, Bodega Bay Fire Protection District, Gold Ridge Fire Protection District, Graton Fire Protection District, Sonoma County Fire, Camp Meeker Fire, Monte Rio Fire Protection District and Cal Fire assisted in fighting the inferno.